Bowl Preview: Breaking Down TCU's Offense

Cyclone Nation wants you to know everything there is to know about the Cyclone's Houston Bowl foe, TCU. Here's a look at what the Frogs bring to the table on the offensive side of the football.

When Iowa State and Texas Christian meet on New Year's Eve, the Cyclones will face the most balanced offense they've seen thus far.  The Mountain West champions spread the ball to many different hands with the team's total rushing and passing yards separated by only 47 yards all season.  Scoring over 33 points per game should challenge a Cyclone defense that was picked apart in the second half of its season finale against Kansas.


The Horned Frogs are led under center by Jeff Ballard who replaced injured starter Tye Gunn September 24th against BYU.  Ballard, a junior, completed almost 60% of his passes and accumulated over 1500 yards on his way to 12 touchdowns during the regular season.  Though he's not slated as a dual-threat, Ballard is the team's third leading rusher with 327 yards and eight touchdowns.


Junior Robert Merrill and freshman Aaron Brown both average over 70 yards per game on the ground and lead TCU's potent rushing attack.  Merrill leads the team with nine rushing touchdowns but Brown, an honorable mention for the freshman All-American team (The Sporting News), has contributed with five.  Brown also leads the duo with 6.1 yards per carry.


Junior Cory Rodgers, a first team All-American kick returner (Sports Illustrated), leads TCU's modest but explosive wide receiver corps.  Rodgers is the all-time career leader in touchdown receptions for the Horned Frogs with 17.  Averaging 13 yards per catch, the experienced Rodgers will need to be blanketed all day by LaMarcus Hicks.  Speedster Donald Massey has yet to haul in a touchdown, but could cause problems for the Cyclone linebackers when he lines up in the slot.


The offensive line is anchored by senior center Stephen Culp.  The three-year letter winner leads a line that has only given up 18 sacks all year.  Left tackle Michael Toudouze has done a nice job filling in for graduated all-conference performer Anthony Alabi.  Right tackle Herbert Taylor is the most experienced of the front five with 35 starts over the last three years.  He's not a grinder in the trenches like Culp and Toudouze, but he will slow the trio of Jason Berryman, Cephus Johnson, and Shawn Moorehead with quickness and technique.


Overall, the Horned Frogs are a well-oiled machine on offense and are coming off a 51 point performance against UNLV to end the season.  They will look to run first, but Ballard is capable of throwing for first downs and hitting homerun balls with the help of Rodgers.  Beating four teams that are playing in bowls speaks for itself – the Frogs can play.

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